Chase Richards, 40, was attacked by a Toronto police officer who grabbed him by the throat within seconds of arriving at a call. The police officer was called because allegedly the young man was causing a disturbance and not paying his fare.
A Black TTC rider testified that he had paid his fare. Richards tried to explain this to the driver who didn’t believe him and has stopped the bus. He then called the cops who arrived shortly.
“I took out my wallet and I showed them I had sufficient funds and I tapped my card again to prove to my fellow passengers that I wasn’t cheating or causing a disturbance,” Richards testified on Thursday afternoon at Old City Hall.
“The driver said he doesn’t want to ride with me because I smell like cigarettes,” he said. “I told him my smell shouldn’t affect you doing your job.”
Crown Attorney Robert Shallow asked Richards why he thinks that this is racism. Richards replied:
“I don’t think if this was a young white male on the back of the bus we would have to go through all that we’re dealing with.”
Richards was accused of mischief and causing a disturbance. The trial has changed now though and will be examining the conduct of Toronto Det. Christopher Hutchings for using excessive force.
Richards testified that he paid his fare by tapping Presto card when he got on the bus’s rear door. The driver stopped the bus and accused Richards of skipping the fare. The others left the bus, but Richards stayed.
“At the time I decided to stay on for the simple fact that I’m a young Black man and I don’t want to be accused of cheating and leaving the scene,” Richards testified.
When Hutchings arrived on the scene, he started holding Richards by the neck for at least 30 seconds before throwing him to the ground on the bus and putting his foot on his body. He was then held in a police car.
“For paying?” Richards responds. “I showed my Presto card. I paid on the bus. I got choked. He physically choked me.”
Hutchings has been suspended with pay from Toronto police. He pleaded not guilty. His partner, detective Jason Tanouye was also charged with assault. The Toronto Police Service released a statement immediately, saying that “officers are trained to use proportionate use of force needed to gain control of a situation safely and without injury during dynamic situations.” They pointed out that “the Service does not teach neck restraint or “chokeholds” as a standard.”